Life is fun and wonderful when you have great light. But what happens when you are indoors, with nothing but yucky artificial light going on? In this video Rob shows you a super simple technique to get great light with your flash. So take a minute, and enjoy learning visually.
Fun right? Now that you’ve watched the video, here are some notes to help you set everything up in the right order, and get some awesome light!
First, let’s look at the results from the video (no editing, all straight out of camera: SOOC)
In this shot you’ll see there is still some colour cast on Lauren’s face from the overhead lights. Gotta block that out:
Reduced the ISO and now there’s virtually no cast left:
This is with the flash pointed straight up. Not much light in her eyes, and unflattering shadows:
Direct flash. Icky:
Better! This is with the flash pointed at 45 degrees, over my right shoulder. Soft, directional, easy:
1. Block Out Ambient Light
Set your exposure to block out ambient light. What you want to do is block out those icky overhead lights. This might seem counterintuitive (normally in low light conditions you want as much light as possible).
The problem is that the overhead lights produce a different color temperature than your flash. If you don’t block them out, your images will have a combination of the yellower overhead temperature and the bluer flash temperature and will be virtually impossible to white balance.
Set your shutter speed first around 1/160 – 1/200 (faster shutter speeds will help block out the ambient, but you can’t go too fast or you won’t be able to sync with you flash).
Next set your aperture to something your comfortable with. We’re usually in the f/2.8 to f/3.5 range.
Finally adjust your ISO until you can no longer see ambient light in the image. If you’re taking a test shot of a person their skin tones should be extremely dark—you really don’t want any yellow cast showing .
2. Set Your Flash
Attach your flash and turn it on. Set your flash to ETTL or an automatic equivalent. You should already have your camera exposure settings (from Step 1.)
All you should have to do at this point is aim your flash in the direction you would like to bounce the light from. This will take a little bit of practice and you’ll have to be conscious of what you’re bouncing off of. We typically position the flash at about 45 degrees and point it over our left or right shoulder. This produces nice soft directional light (as seen in the photos).
Take a few test shots and adjust your flash as needed. You may need to adjust the power of the flash up or down depending on how bright the image is.
This technique will work 90% of the time. You’ll find that you can bounce off of walls and celings that seem impossibly far away. It’s just a matter of adjusting the direction of the flash and fine tuning the strength.
Spend some time practicing this in your home. Try different angles, bounce of walls, ceilings, and anything that you think could work. See how the different directions result in different types of light.
• This technique is perfect for wedding receptions. You don’t have to do much with your camera, and can spend more time paying attention to what is happening, and capturing those moments. Less fiddling, more focus.
• The best flashes for this technique are the 580EX for Canon and the SB900 for Nikon. They call them “shoe-mount flashes”. They can rotate to any angle, which gives you the variation you need to get the best light. If your flash can’t turn all the way, your best bet is just bouncing as much as you can.
• Bouncing your flash uses up a lot of battery power. The additional battery pack is useful in helping your flash recycle quickly. (Canon model. Nikon model.)
• Mirrors on the wall will often confuse the automatic settings in flash, in which case you may need to set the flash power manually.
• You’ll find that as it gets darker (lowering lights for the dance for instance) you can turn your ISO up without having the ambient light show up. This will help conserve battery power, and recycle your flash faster!
• The farther away from your subject you are the more direct you’ll need to point your flash. This is useful to know for things like speeches. For instance if you’re really close to your subject you’ll have no problem bouncing flash over your shoulder and beautifully lighting your subject. If your subject is across a room you won’t be able to bounce over your shoulder instead you’ll need to point the flash more directly at your subject, maybe bouncing off a wall, or more forward on the ceiling.
• If you’re working in a venue with an extremely tall ceiling, a black ceiling, a brightly colored ceiling, or no ceiling at all then you will need to resort to a flash diffuser, direct flash or off-camera flash.
Apologies for the icky light in the video. It was kind of the point :) And the shakiness, well, Lauren apologizes, and says that her arms are embarassingly weak. Big thanks to Sheri, Lauren, Brenda and Steph for the topic suggestion! Hope this helped!